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New proposals for the regulation of lawyers - Consultation opens on quality assurance for criminal advocates

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The Joint Advocacy Group today launches its consultation on proposals for a scheme to quality assure advocates in the criminal courts.

The Group was established by the Bar Standards Board, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and ILEX Professional Standards to develop a scheme to quality assure criminal advocacy across the three professions. The consultation paper sets out the framework for the delivery of the scheme and invites comments by 12 November 2010.

Effective advocacy is fundamental to the justice system. Members of the public reply upon it for the proper presentation of their case and the courts are dependent upon it for the proper administration of justice. There is therefore a need for systematic and consistent quality assurance of advocates by the regulators.

The scheme will

  • build on the existing education framework for entry into advocacy to develop a rigorous assessment process to ensure that adequate standards are attained at the start of an advocate's career;
  • introduce higher-level standards and periodic re-accreditation to ensure that advocates remain fit to practise as their careers progress;
  • have reporting arrangement for judges and others to refer poor performing advocates for remediation or re-training;
  • be managed by an independent body, accountable to, and with oversight from, the three advocacy regulators.

The scheme proposed represents a proportionate and practicable approach to quality assurance of criminal advocacy.  It is fundamental to effective regulation that rigorous quality assurance systems are in place to ensure that standards are attained and then maintained. The scheme set out in the consultation paper represents a cost-effective and straightforward solution which the Joint Advocacy Group believes is in the public interest and will carry the confidence of the profession and the judiciary.

Notes to editors

1. The consultation paper and related information are available on the three regulators' websites: www.sra.org.uk, www.barstandardsboard.org.uk, www.ilex.org.uk.

2. Advocacy is the means by which a lawyer puts their client's case to the court, and may be both written and oral. Key advocacy skills include case analysis, use of skeleton arguments, oral submissions, examinations-in-chief and cross-examination, pleas in mitigation and legal submissions.

3. For more information, contact: Weber Shandwick press office (for Bar Standards Board) on 020 7067 0123, Solicitors Regulation Authority press office on 0121 329 6703, ILEX press office on 01234 845713.

 
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